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What Are the Different Types of Custody in North Dakota?

What Are the Different Types of Custody in North Dakota?

What Are the Different Types of Custody in North Dakota?

If you’re in the middle of a custody battle, you need to know how everything works. Learn more about the different types of custody right here.

Keyword(s): different types of custody

Did you know that a high percentage of divorces occur in families with minor or adolescent children? 

A divorce is a complicated and often emotional process. A key challenge when preparing for a divorce is determining custody for any children involved. Going through a custody battle can be a hard experience for both parents and the child/children in question. 

What does North Dakota law say about custody? What are the different types of custody allowed? Continue reading to learn more.

What Are the Different Types of Custody? 

Custody is the legal guardianship of a child or children. There are four specific types of custody a parent can be awarded with. Below each type is highlighted in greater detail. 

Physical (Residential) Custody

The child or children involved in a custody agreement will live with the physical custodian. The physical custodian’s responsibilities include providing and caring for the child or children (including housing, food, clothing, etc).

The physical custodian will have influence over the day-to-day (ex. punishment, chores, extracurricular activities) decisions of the child or children. 

Legal (Decision Based) Custody 

The legal custodian is responsible for making legal, medical, financial, and educational decisions on behalf of the child or children. The parent with legal custody has the final authority in such decisions. 


Joint-Custody refers to when both parents are awarded legal guardianship of their child or children.

The child or children will spend time with both parents (the specific amount of days will be determined in court) and both parents will make legal decisions on behalf of the child or children together. Both parents will co-raise the child or children. 

Additionally, both parents will financially support the child or children. 

Sole Custody

Sole custody refers to when one parent is given the physical and legal custody of a child or children. The child or children will spend the majority of their time with the custodial parent, but may still be able to see the noncustodial parent on occasion depending on the custody agreement. In certain cases, the child or children may not be allowed to be in the presence of the noncustodial parent (even with supervision). 

Child support will be determined based on the custody agreement and both parents’ annual incomes. The noncustodial parent may be required to pay for child support. 

Visitation Rights in a Custody Agreement 

In most scenarios, both parents have visitation rights and are able to maintain a relationship with their child or children if they have custody or not. 

Depending on the custody agreement, the child or children will spend time with the noncustodial parent based on a schedule. How often and when the child or children stay with the noncustodial parent will be determined by both parents or the court. Some custody agreements allow visitation rights, but the noncustodial parent must be supervised. 

As highlighted above, in specific cases, a parent may be refused visitation rights if the parent is potentially a danger or threat to the child or children. Parents in legal trouble, incarcerated, or who have serious addictions (ex. alcohol or drugs) may be refused visitation rights. 

Factors That Go Into Deciding Custody 

The best interest of the child or children should always be the main concern in a custody agreement.

If both parents are in agreement for joint custody, this is often beneficial for the child or children. Being raised by both parents can prove to be more comfortable for the child or children. Additionally, it can make the transition from the divorce easier. 

Depending on the child’s age and maturity level, he or she may express their opinion on whom they would like to live with. This is simply a request and a court may rule against the child’s wishes if it determines this request is not in the child’s best interest. 

Factors that go into determining joint and sole custody include: 

  • The parent’s ability to provide financially for the child or children (food, housing, clothing, education, etc)
  • The parent’s relationship with the child or children 
  • The parent’s ability to love and care for the child 
  • If the parent has enough time to raise the child or children 
  • The location of each parent and how far the child or children would have to travel to be with each parent 
  • If a parent has a criminal background 

How Heartland Law Office, PC Can Assist 

The team at Heartland Law Office, PC understands the complexities of divorce. We also understand that you, as a parent, want to spend time with your child or children. 

We want to be a reliable partner in the custody process and help you find the best possible outcome for your family. We will fight for you and your child or children in a custody battle. 

Our team will explain the custody process to you in detail and what options you may have. Additionally, we will elaborate on North Dakota child custody laws and how the court decides on the custody of a child or children. 

Schedule a Consultation With Heartland Law Office, PC

If you are preparing for a divorce, we encourage you to be proactive about your child or children’s custody. Hiring a lawyer is crucial in the custody process. 

The team at Heartland Law, PC has proudly served countless families in the Bismark, North Dakota community. Our team of attorneys will provide guidance during this challenging time. 

To learn more about the different types of custody you may request and to begin to plan for your child or children’s custody, we invite you to schedule a consultation with us today.